x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Lampard is part of plans at Chelsea, says Villas-Boas

Yet the pair are understood not to have spoken face-to-face for over a month while Josh McEachran is set to join Swansea City on loan.

Frank Lampard is frustrated by his lack of starts this season.
Frank Lampard is frustrated by his lack of starts this season.

Andre Villas-Boas has sought to temper discussion about Frank Lampard's future at Chelsea by claiming that he shares a "fantastic" relationship with a midfielder who will be staying at the club "long-term".

Lampard, a cornerstone of Chelsea's success over the last decade, has spoken openly about his dissatisfaction at starting on the substitutes' bench for a series of fixtures this season, stating that Villas-Boas had not explained omissions to him. According to source close to the player, the pair have not talked face-to-face for over a month.

News of Lampard's difficulties with the Chelsea manager led Sir Alex Ferguson to make a discreet inquiry about the England international's interest in moving to Manchester United earlier this month. Chelsea, however, have made it clear they would not countenance a transfer to a direct Premier League rival.

Asked about the possibility of Lampard leaving Stamford Bridge in January, Villas-Boas said: "He's going to be here for sure. Long-term.

"First, he's not in and out in rotation. There is no such thing. We decide on an eleven who is strong for any game and that can help us in the strategy to win the game. Frank has been decisive in the last couple of games with the timing of his arrival in the box to solve problems in the team. We speak every day. We see each other every day.

"I have 24 players to count on. Players have different characteristics and your strategy depends on how you want to play the game. Other players might be better placed in certain games, or players might be in better form than others.

"We try different options at times, but Frank is the fifth or sixth most used player at Chelsea so he's involved all the time. We are speaking of two players ahead of him, one is a goalkeeper and the other is John Terry who has been involved in all games, even carrying injuries."

With the core of his squad over the age of 30, Villas-Boas has devised plans to rejuvenate Chelsea's squad with players more suited to the Barcelona-inspired tactics he is attempting to implement at Stamford Bridge. While Roman Abramovich has been in broad agreement with the Portuguese since his summer appointment, the process of phasing elder players out has become complicated and drawn out.

"'Move them out' is not the right phrase," said Villas-Boas. "You have to respect players of magnitude who have reached lots of success. Players have to make judgements on the players around them, in terms of freshness, availability, the recovery process, playing quality and physicality. It's normal that players feel it. Eventually, if that's the case, an up-front relationship would see them inform the manager and a decision would be made."

Chelsea are confident of completing the £7milllion (Dh39,535m) purchase of Gary Cahill from Bolton Wanderers within the week. Chief executive Ron Gourlay has advised Villas-Boas that negotiations have progressed to a point where Cahill has realised that the club's offer of around £50,000 a week in wages is a reflection of attempts to control salary costs rather than a slight on the defender's abilities.

The club is considering an approach from Queens Park Rangers for the transfer-listed Brazil centre back Alex, and are close to allowing Gael Kakuta to join Dijon on loan. Josh McEachran is expected to complete a half-season loan to Swansea City next week.